Bach and Friends

Louis-Noël Bestion de Camboulas organ/harpsichord
Ambronay AMY048
Böhm, Buxtehude, J. C. F. Fischer, Georg Muffat, Pachelbel, Scheidemann

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]his is a recital by a young prizewinning organist/harpsichordist from the Southwest corner of France. He plays a harpsichord by Philippe Humau – a copy of an instrument made by Johann Heinrich Gräbner in Dresden in 1722 which has been in the Villa Bertramka in Prague since 1787. It has a mature and resonant tone. The organ is a 3 manual instrument by Dominique Thomas built in the north German style of Arp Schnitger for the church at Ciboure in 2014. The plain, flat wooden roofed church has dry acoustics, that do the instrument no favours, but every note – even when manual 16’ ranks are drawn – is clear, and the sound is not only powerful in the tutti but elegant and characterful when only a few ranks are used. This is an exciting instrument, and I hope that there will be an organ by Thomas in the UK before too long.

The programme title ‘Bach and his friends’ is a slight misnomer. Scheidemann died in 1663, and Buxtehude and Pachelbel at least cannot be called friends in the normal sense of the word. But it makes a good selection and gives a context to Bach’s works we do not often hear. For an example of Louis-Nöel Bestion de Camboulas’ – what a splendid name! – fine playing, listen to his articulation of the entries in the fugato sections of Buxtehude’s Praeludium in G minor: each entry is beautifully phrased and given the clarity and shaping it deserves without the onward rhythm being in any way distorted. This is elegant playing, and apparently straightforward pieces like Pachelbel’s Aria Sebaldina from Hexachordum Apollinis  acquire a lyrical presence.

When he comes to the organ, the registrations – it would have been good to include details in the booklet as well as the specification – are varied and displays the colours and richness of Thomas’ organ. There are six manual reeds, and four on the pedal, and a rank with a Tierce on each of the three manuals, but in the Böhm Vater unser  the decorated chorale is given to a single principal rank, and its sweet, singing tone illustrates the builder’s skill as well as the player’s.

So this is a fine introduction to a skilled and elegant player as well as two splendid instruments. I recommend this disc to connoisseurs of both.

David Stancliffe

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